Today Mahashivaratri is being celebrated in India and across Braj. In Vrindavan, Lord Shiva is revered as Gopeshwar (Lord of the Gopis) and local legend has it that Sri Krishna himself gave this name to Lord Shiva after Shiva took on the form of a Gopi in order to witness the Rasa Lila.
According to temple history, Sri Krishna’s grandson established the Gopeshwar Mahadev temple and it is Vrindavan’s oldest temple. Here, every evening, devotees take darshan of Lord Shiva’s Gopi-form. Gopeshwar Mahadev’s Sonu Goswami said that Mahashivratri will be celebrated on 13th February at Gopeshwar temple, however, devotees can also fast on 14th because the tithi falls in between the 13th and 14th.
Bankandeshwar Mahadev temple entrance, P.C. brajdarshan.in
Lord Shiva appeared in his Gopeshwara form to Sanatan Goswami who used to struggle to walk to Gopeshwar Mahadev temple every day. Gopeshwara appeared Sanatan Goswami’s dream and told him that he would appear in the form of a ling in Sanatan Goswami’s hut. The next day, Sanatan Goswami found the ling, which is still being worshiped today at Bankhandi Mahahadev temple in Loi Bazaar. Bankandi Mahadev is an extremely merciful form of Lord Shiva who destroys difficulties, fulfilling the desires of those who want to lead a peaceful life of devotion.
Lord Shiva is an integral part of Krishna lila and Ram lila. Even when time was running out and Ravan was about to devour mother Sita, Lord Ram stopped to worship Lord Shiva before crossing the ocean to Lanka to rescue her.
“I greet Goddess Parvati and Her consort, Bhagavan Shankara, embodiments of reverence and faith respectively, without which even the adept cannot perceive God enshrined in their very heart.”
Bhuteshwar Mahadev, P.C. TripAdvisor
Lord Shiva is the protector of Sri Krishna’s lilas. Close to Sri Krishna Janma Bhoomi is Bhuteshwar Mahadev temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva’s work in controlling the spirits of the underworld.
In the Giriraj Khand of Garg Samhita, it is mentioned that Lord Shiva was present when Sri Krishna organized the first Govardhan pooja. The place where he sat to watch Goverdhan pooja is commemorated as Rudra Kund at Govardhan’s Mukharvind (mouth) at Jatipura.
For some, Mahashivaratri is a solemn festival of inward contemplation and in some places there are street parades and celebrations.
Obeisances to Lord Shiva, Lord of the Gopis who is ever merciful and assists the faithful to perceive the Supreme.